Why? Weekends!

It was a busy weekend, dear readers, so let’s get right to it! CLEguy and I started our weekend early by attending the Jump Back Ball kickoff happy hour at Market Garden Brewery on Thursday night.

If the happy hour is any indication, Jump Back Ball is going to be one amazing party! The crowd was huge and everyone was so excited to chat about JBB, costume and dress ideas for the big event, and more.

I ran into fellow bloggers and tweeps Clue Into Cleveland, Finding the Time, and @cindilou19. CLEguy and I also tried the Festivus Ale, which is Market Garden’s holiday ale (for the rest of us). Festivus has all the great cinnamon-y spices of a holiday ale, but is much lighter drinking than some. I have no grievances to air with it!

Almost 1/3 of the JBB tickets sold at the happy hour! This year’s Through the Looking Glass JBB is sure to be another sell-out, so get your tickets today. You’re not going to want to miss it!

Friday night, CLEguy and I did some kitchen experimentation and created a delicious homemade pizza with pumpkin seed pesto sauce, butternut squash, chicken, and walnuts. Perfect for fall!

Saturday morning, to work off the pizza, I went to my first ever spinning class. Thanks to all of you who recommended it – I loved it (even though I totally hated it in the middle). I’m still waiting for my a** butt bootie to recover, though.

That evening, CLEguy and I took all of our parents out to dinner at Match Works Tavern, one of our favorite east-side spots.

I’ve sung Match Works’ praises here before, so I’ll just give you the quick overview of our delicious meal. After sharing appetizers of duck pierogi and calamari, we dove into our entrees.

I chose the pork osso bucco with sweet potato puree and granny smith apple sauerkraut. The pork literally fell off the bone and the flavor was marvelous. The sweet potato puree and apple kraut complemented the flavors in the pork perfectly.

CLEguy chose a weekend special of antelope medallions, served with squash puree and carmelized vegetables. The antelope had a distinct flavor that neither one of us has been able to describe. “Smoky” is the closest I could come up with, but even that doesn’t accurately capture the interesting and complex taste of the meat.

After desserts of apple cobbler, tiramisu, chocolate mousse, and creme brulee passed around the table, we all headed home stuffed and happy. Match Works hit it out of the park again!

Sunday, I had the unique experience of judging the Cleveland Magazine Bloody Mary Showdown at Market. Ten local folks entered to compete for the title of Best Bloody Mary in Cleveland. All proceeds from this 1st-ever event benefitted The Girlfriends Corner, an organization offering to support to women under 40 with breast cancer.

The Bloody Mary Showdown competitors

When we arrived, we got to watch the competitors preparing their beverages, before we went and feasted at Market’s Sunday brunch buffet. We could get everything from eggs Benedict to breakfast pastries to fresh fruit to slider hamburgers to Buffalo chicken wings. It was hearty and delicious and we will definitely be back for another Sunday brunch.

Then the “hard work” of judging began. Each competitor was judged on taste, presentation, and creativity. The 8 judges’ scores made up 50% of the total and the crowd vote (each person at the brunch could vote for one favorite) made up the other 50%. Here are the concoctions served up:

The Bloody Caesar – featuring anchovies, shaved parmesan, Romaine lettuce, and a crouton

The Bloody Knows – featuring jabanero peppers and topped with a deviled egg with bacon pieces – 3rd place winner

Bloody Wasabi – featuring ginger-infused vodka, wasabi paste, and a piece of California roll

Ain’t No Thing But A Buffalo Wing – featuring Buffalo wing sauce, celery salt, and a bleu cheese stuffed olive – 2nd place winner

Grilled Bloody Mary – featuring grilled pureed tomatoes and Montreal Grilling seasoning rim, topped with a grilled shrimp

Southern Belle – featuring all farm-to-table, locally grown ingredients and rimmed with smoky bacon salt

Blazin’ Cowboy – featuring lots of peppery spices and topped with a peperoncini, cheese, salami, and an olive – 1st place winner

Girlfriends Gourmet Bloody Mary – featuring all natural ingredients, lemon and lime infused vodka, and heart-healthy, vegetarian toppers

Hot D Wake Up Juice – an original Bloody Mary mix actually sold in stores in Ohio

True Bloody – featuring pepper-infused vodka and topped with pickled garlic and green beans

CLEguy and I sporting the mustaches that came with the Blazin' Cowboy

The Blazin’ Cowboy won $300 cash, plus gets her drink on Market’s menu for a year beginning next week, so head on over there and check it out. It’ll add a kick to your morning!

Needing something a little sweeter to cleanse our palates, we headed up the street to Mitchell’s Ice Cream to try the new Christmas Ale Ginger Snap creation. It is delicious – more ginger snap than Christmas Ale – and I’m sure it’ll be a welcome addition to the holiday season in CLE.

Phew! What a weekend, CLE! What new answers to Why CLE? did you discover this weekend? Which of the Bloody Mary’s would you most like to have tried?

***Disclosure: I was asked by Playhouse Square to be a Jump Back Ball blogger. In exchange for blogging about the event, I receive 2 VIP tickets. I was asked by Cleveland Magazine to be a judge at the Bloody Mary Showdown. At the event, we were surprised by Market with complimentary brunch for the judges and our guests. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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